Teach Us to Number Our Days | Revive Our Hearts Episode

Natasha: Hi, I’m Natasha. I’m from Russia originally, and I’m a Revive Our Hearts Monthly Partner. It is my privilege to support this ministry because it is a beacon of truth in our dark world that is full of lies. So, enjoy today’s episode or Revive Our Hearts, brought to you in part by the Monthly Partner team.

Dannah Gresh: Arthur DeMoss died of a heart attack at age fifty-three. After his death, his family found a slip of paper he had written and kept in his desk drawer. Art’s daughter Nancy tells us what it said.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Teach us to number our days and recognize how few they are. Help us to spend them as we should.

Dannah: This is the Revive Our Hearts podcast with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Heaven Rules, for March 15, 2023. I’m Dannah Gresh.

Natasha: Hi, I’m Natasha. I’m from Russia originally, and I’m a Revive Our Hearts Monthly Partner. It is my privilege to support this ministry because it is a beacon of truth in our dark world that is full of lies. So, enjoy today’s episode or Revive Our Hearts, brought to you in part by the Monthly Partner team.

Dannah Gresh: Arthur DeMoss died of a heart attack at age fifty-three. After his death, his family found a slip of paper he had written and kept in his desk drawer. Art’s daughter Nancy tells us what it said.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Teach us to number our days and recognize how few they are. Help us to spend them as we should.

Dannah: This is the Revive Our Hearts podcast with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Heaven Rules, for March 15, 2023. I’m Dannah Gresh.

I’m glad you’ve chosen to spend the next twenty-four minutes or so with Revive Our Hearts. Your time is valuable, and we want every word to count. Nancy’s been talking about how precious and short our time is on this earth in the series, “Living in Light of Eternity.” Here she is with part three of that series.

Nancy: One of the seven wonders of the ancient world is the Egyptian tombs and pyramids. I’m told that one of those great pyramids took 100,000 men forty years to build.

Now why would the Egyptians have put such time and effort into a burying place for their pharaohs? Well, the Egyptians definitely have some problems in their theology, but one thing they understood well, and that is that they would spend a lot more time in the next life than they would in this life.

They believed that the next life was far more important than this life, so they prepared for the afterlife during this life. That’s why they invested so much time and effort and so many resources into building those great pyramids.

We’ve been looking this week at Psalm 90, where we find a prayer of Moses, the man of God. Moses has talked about the eternity of God and the brevity of life—how man’s life is so short. It is here today and gone tomorrow. Moses has said that the reason for the shortness of life is the anger of God that consumes man because of man’s sinfulness.

He says in verse 10, “The days of our lives are seventy years; and if by reason of strength they are eighty years, yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.” So we’ve looked at the shortness of life.

Now Moses comes in this prayer to make a request in light of what he has realized about the shortness and the sadness of man’s life apart from God. He says in verse 12, “So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Moses is saying, “I want to make a choice to orient my life around God, to live my life in the light of eternity.”

He prays that God will teach us how to count our days, how to number our days. You know, if we’re going to have a heart of wisdom, we have to have a teachable heart, to be willing to go to the Lord and say, “Lord, teach me what I do not know.”

Wisdom is not natural. It doesn’t come just with experience. The Scripture says, “God gives wisdom.” If we want wisdom about life and death and eternity, we must ask Him for it. Wisdom has to be learned. It has to be imparted by God. Through Moses’ prayer we are challenged to evaluate the use of our time—in light of the brevity of life and the length of eternity.

If God gives you and me a life span of seventy years, and Moses is saying that’s about an average expected life span, a little math will tell you that is 25,550 days. If God gives you eighty years, that’s 29,200 days. Now that seems like a lot of days, until you start to think about how many have already passed and how few are left, and there is no guarantee of having the seventy years.

I have a brother that was given just over 8,000 days before he was taken into the presence of the Lord in an automobile accident a number of years ago. I think of my friend Janience Grissom who was given fewer than 15,000 days of what we anticipate would be our allotted 25,000 days. But she was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease. As a mother in her early forties she went into the presence of the Lord. We have no guarantee of having even those seventy years.

So Moses says, “O God, would you teach us to number our days so that we can gain a heart of wisdom?” That’s the goal of numbering our days.

Wisdom is the ability to look at all of life from God’s perspective. How do we gain wisdom? How do we gain the ability to look at life from God’s point of view? By numbering our days. By thinking about our lives here on earth in the light of eternity.


How are you using your life? How are you using those days that God has given to you? As you think about how you’re using your life, ask yourself, “What will be the sum of all of those days when I stand before God in eternity?”

A poll taken by a company called Priority Management Incorporated figured that in a lifetime the average American will spend six months sitting at stoplights, one year looking for misplaced objects (that will be a little longer in my case), two years unsuccessfully returning phone calls, and five years waiting in line. Now, when the sum total of your life is told, is that how you want it to be summarized?

Moses says, “Teach us to number our days so we can gain a heart of wisdom.” I’ll tell you, one thing that helps a lot with this is going to funerals, visiting a cemetery. It’s a powerful reminder of the shortness of life. It gives us perspective on this life and the next.

I remember a number of years ago attending the funeral of my mother’s only sister, who died at the age of thirty-eight with a rare lung disease. I was in my late twenties at the time, and I remember at that funeral . . .

My Aunt Lynn was not a well-known woman. She was a faithful wife and mom. But I remember, at that funeral, hearing testimony after testimony in that funeral service of how her simple, loving, faithful life had touched other lives. She’d never done anything that would be written about in any history books, but her life had written something on the books and on the pages of the lives of the people who were her friends.

I remember sitting in that service as a twenty-eight-year-old young woman thinking, You know, when my life is said and done, at my funeral, are there people who would be able to say that I really cared? That I loved them? That I was a real friend? What will have been the impact of my life?

What is a wasted day? What is a wasted life? Well, really, there are two ways we can waste our lives. One is living our lives without thought for God, just neglecting the spiritual dimension of our lives, neglecting spiritual matters. That’s a wasted life! That’s a life that has nothing to show for itself in eternity.

Some of us who aren’t neglecting spiritual matters live our lives in another wasteful way, and that’s in resistance against God—murmuring, complaining, resenting, resisting, disobeying what we know to be the will of God.

Some of us in this room are still in the first half of our anticipated life span here on earth. A few, perhaps, not many, may have actually gone into “overtime.” Regardless of where we are in that span, I ask you this question: how do you want to live the rest of the days that you have left on this earth? And what practical difference would it make for you to live your life, to live those remaining days, in the light of eternity?

The psalmist said it this way in Psalm 39:

Lord, make me to know my end, and what is the measure of my days, that I may know how frail I am. Indeed, You have made my days as handbreadths [the smallest unit of measurement in the Old Testament], and my age is as nothing before You; certainly every man at his best state is but vapor. Surely every man walks about like a shadow; surely they busy themselves in vain; he heaps up riches, and does not know who will gather them. (Psalm 39:4‑6)

What practical difference would it make for you to live your life in the light of eternity?

Author John Grissom tells the story about one of his best college buddies who died when both the young men were about twenty-five years old. He tells about how his friend called and asked if they could have lunch together. He told John that he had cancer. John was just stunned. He couldn’t believe it. They were both young men in the prime of life. John asked his friend, “What do you do when you realize you’re about to die?”

His friend said to him that it is real simple, “You get things right with God. And you spend as much time with those you love as you can. Then you settle up with everybody else.” Then his friend said, “You know, really, you ought to live every day like you only have a few more days to live.”

Now, in the final paragraph of this chapter, Moses makes six requests to God in light of all that has gone before. In light of the eternity of God. In light of the brevity and the frailty of man, he asks God for six things. These are my prayer requests. Moses was a man of God. I figure if these were the things he prayed, these would be the right things for us to pray as well.

Beginning in verse 13 he says, “Return, O LORD! How long? And have compassion on Your servants.” Now he’s talked about the wrath, the terror, the consuming anger of God. He realizes that their only hope is if God will have compassion.

So he says, “Lord, look not on us in wrath but have mercy on us as sinners. Yes, we have offended You. No, we do not deserve Your compassion, but would you just show us Your mercy?”

The only hope for sinful man, doomed to die under the wrath and the judgment of God, consumed by God’s anger, our only hope is that God will have compassion on us.

So we pray, “Lord, in wrath, remember mercy. Have compassion on Your servants.”

Then he prays in verse 14, “Oh, satisfy us early with Your mercy, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days!” Now that’s the first note of joy that has come into this psalm thus far, since he started talking about the brevity of life and the sadness of life.

He says that there is something that can bring joy and rejoicing to the labor, the drudgery, the travail, and the sorrow of our short lives here on earth. And this is, the mercy of God.

He says, “God, let us be satisfied early with your mercy.” The mercy of God speaks of His unfailing covenant love, the love that He showed to us when He sent Jesus to Calvary to die for us. That’s mercy. That’s covenant, faithful love.

And Moses says, “Let us be satisfied with your mercy early.” Now, this request, I think, can mean one of two things.

There’s a sense in which we want to be satisfied early in life with God’s mercy, to come to know the mercy of Christ early in life. Many of you are mothers and grandmothers, and as you pray for your children, pray that early in their lives they will come to know the mercy of God. Pray that they will come to see their need for a Savior, come to be convicted of their sin and turn to Christ for mercy.

I’m so thankful that my parents, who did not come to know the Lord until they were young adults, prayed for the salvation of their seven children. I am so thankful that at the age of four God worked in my heart to draw me to Jesus, to satisfy me early in life with His mercy. That has proved to be a wonderful foundation to the rest of my life. It’s brought joy and gladness into these years.

There’s another sense in which we can understand the word “early” in this verse, and that is to learn to be satisfied with God’s mercy early each morning. The mercies of God are new and fresh each morning, Scripture tells us. I wonder if, as he prayed this prayer, Moses was thinking about how early each morning God would provide “manna” there in the wilderness for the children of Israel.

They had to get the manna while it was still fresh in the morning. How we need each morning to go into the presence of God and apply for fresh mercy and grace to sustain us through that day so that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. Do you want to live your days with joy? Then start each day getting your soul satisfied with His mercy.

Then Moses prays in verse 15. “Make us glad according to the days in which You have afflicted us, the years in which we have seen evil.”

Moses realizes that only God can turn affliction and evil into gladness. In fact, we learn elsewhere in the Psalms that God will cause the wrath of men to praise Him.

Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 4:17 that our light affliction, which is really just for a moment even if it endures for a lifetime here on earth, it’s still just a moment in the light of eternity.

He says that affliction is really light—even though it seems very heavy and hard to bear. And what is it doing? It’s working for us. It’s producing in us “a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”

The weight is yet to come. The glory in its fullest expression is yet to come, but living in light of that will give us hope in these afflicted days that we live here on earth.

I love that promise in Psalm, chapter 30, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning” (v. 5). And Moses prays for that joy to come in the morning.

Then he prays in verse 16, “[Oh God] let your work appear to your servants, and your glory to their children.” Moses is pleading with God to let him see God’s work. He said, “Our work is just labor and sorrow, but God, I want to see Your work in this world. I want to see Your mercy active and alive in Your people.”

Our work is sheer drudgery apart from His working in and through us. And the work that we have to do takes on meaning when it is Christ working in us.

His prayer is that not only he but the next generation may be privileged to see the glory of God. Isn’t God gracious in the midst of this troublesome, short, oppressed, sad, few days we have here on earth to give us some glimpses of His glory? To let us see His heart? To let us experience the goodness of His salvation in the midst of our sorrow?

Then in verse 17, the last verse of this chapter, we see Moses’ final two requests. “Let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands for us; yes, establish the work of our hands.”

I’ve prayed this prayer many times over the years and find myself often as I face the work that is ahead of me for that day praying, “Oh, Lord, would You let Your beauty be upon me and would You establish the work of my hands?”

In fact, before coming here this morning, I knelt before the Lord and just lifted up this day’s work to Him saying, “Lord would You let Your beauty be upon me, and would You establish the work of my hands? I give it up to You.”

You see, only by God’s grace can the labor and sorrow of life be turned into productive, fruitful service for Christ and joy instead of sorrow.

As we lift up our day’s work to the Lord, some days that work that we’re doing seems pretty lofty. Some days it’s exciting things that we get to do, big tasks. And then as we look at this passage we’re reminded that even when we’re doing stuff we think is pretty important, that we’re really just a vapor, that our lives are so very short.

Then there are some days when the work that’s set before us seems very trivial and insignificant. That’s when it helps me to be reminded that when He establishes the work of my hands, that that work becomes an act of worship. It is sanctified by His presence.

Now, I don’t know what kind of work you have to offer up to the Lord. Some days my work is teaching sessions like this. Some days my work is spending hours and hours at the computer planning to teach days like this. Some days it seems very tedious. Some days when there’s a group of women like this here, it’s very encouraging and exciting. But every day’s work needs to be offered up to Him.

Your work may be preparing meals for your family. It may be washing the dishes after you have prepared those meals. It may be doing laundry. It may be caring for little ones. Some of you are home schooling your children. Perhaps you are writing notes of encouragement to people who are going through some difficult times.

Whatever the work, lift it up to God, and say, “Oh Lord, my life is too short to waste. I don’t want to spend this life just going through this meaningless treadmill, labor and sorrow. I want my life to be spent in light of eternity. I want it to be invested in a way that brings You glory. And so, Lord, would you let Your beauty be upon me and would You establish the work of my hands. Transform my labors into something that is meaningful for Your kingdom.”

Then we thank Him that by His grace He is able to transform that sorrowful, short life into an abundant, joyous—not always easy—but hope-filled life that looks forward to all of eternity in His presence.

When my dad went to be with the Lord, my mother found in his desk drawer a little slip of paper that had this verse written on it: Psalm 90:12.

It was written out in this paraphrase: “Teach us to number our days and recognize how few they are. Help us to spend them as we should.” My dad was a man who lived in the light of eternity, always reminding himself and us that we had so few days. We knew not how few he would have, as at the age of fifty-three he had a heart attack and instantly was in the presence of the Lord.

He was a man, I believe, who had a fruitful, triumphant entrance into eternity. From the time he met the Lord in his mid-twenties until the day he went to heaven twenty-eight years later, he set about seeking how he could live the days he had left on this earth in light of eternity.

If you knew you had only a few days left or months or years—and if it’s thirty or forty or fifty years, it’s still just a few days really—what would you do differently? Are there any phone calls you would make that you’ve been putting off?

Is there a family member that you’d get in touch with and say, “Can we get reconciled?” Is there someone who you’ve been waiting to come and ask your forgiveness? That you would take the initiative and see if you could be restored in the relationship.  Is there some wrong from your past that you would be motivated to make right? Would you hold on to that grudge? Would you whine and complain about the circumstances that you have at this moment of your life, if you knew that shortly you were going to be in eternity and none of that would matter anyway?

Father, we would pray with Moses, this man of prayer. We would say, “Please have compassion on your servants and satisfy us early with Your mercy, that we would rejoice and be glad all the days of our lives. Make us glad according to the days in which you have afflicted us. Let Your work appear to Your servants and Your glory to their children. Let the beauty, the light of Your approval, the Lord our God, be upon us. Establish the work of our hands for us. Yes, establish the work of our hands. We pray it for Jesus’ sake and for the sake of Your great kingdom, amen.

Dannah: Let me offer one follow up to help you keep this message alive in your heart over the coming days. Colin Smith was a guest on Revive Our Hearts last week. He’s written a book about heaven told from the point of view of the thief who was crucified beside Jesus. When you read this book, it will remind you of what Nancy’s been talking about today. Keep eternity in mind. Let eternity shape your day-to-day choices and actions.

We’d like to send you the book by Colin Smith when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any size. The book is called Heaven: How I Got Here. It’s our way of saying thanks when you help make this program possible. Your gift will help even more women in your community and around the world live in light of eternity.

You can donate and request the book when you visit ReviveOurHearts.com, or ask for Heaven: How I Got Here when you donate by phone. The number is 1-800-569-5959. 

Colleen Chao has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. She has a powerful life message about living in light of eternity. You won’t want to miss our interview with her tomorrow. Please be back, for Revive Our Heart.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is calling you to freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ.

All Scripture is taken from the NKJV.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.

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